Ecovative was the recipient of the Innovator of the Year Award at the 2011 Greener Package Awards for its cotton-seed hull and mushroom roots packaging. The company has designed its sustainable packaging to ship Steelcase Currency's ready-to-assemble office furniture.
The packaging, dubbed EcoCradle, is a low-embodied energy which is compostable and can be grown into any shape. It takes between five and seven days to grow, requiring a dark, indoor environment. According to Greener Package, EcoCradle uses one-tenth of the energy needed to make traditional synthetic material.
Steelcase first approached Ecovative in 2009 to develop a new foam protective packaging.
"They researched and sought out other packaging solutions," said Sam Harrington, environmental director and packaging engineer for Ecovative, to the source, "but couldn't find anything that would come close to the cushioning properties of the EPP and EPS [expanded polystyrene] parts they currently used-until they found Ecovative. They ultimately wanted the same or better protection, and far less environmental impact for about the same cost."
Sustainable packaging has grown into a profitable industry. In 2011, it's valued at nearly $108 billion, according to a recent Visiongain report.